Tag Archives: Panama

Book review for Panama

Ethan and Coop are sent to the construction zone along the Panama Canal. They have some experience with strange phenomenon, but nothing prepared them for this.

They are faced with civil war, Carlist pretenders to the thrones of France and Spain, an invading Spanish army, and another from Hell itself. They'll be lucky to survive, let alone take care of anything while they're down there.

This story is based upon the construction of the canal, Panamanian independence, international cooperation, and a few celebrity cameos. Even the magic takes on an international flavor…

Read more on Carmen Stefanescu's Blog

 

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The second week of October, now with #prizes

I may have mentioned doing a bunch of promotion during October. Several of my titles have a paranormal theme to them, and it seemed like a natural time to hit it hard.

Last week I used some Amazon free days for my novel, Panama. I gave away hundreds of copies, but that's always a crap shoot. There is no guarantee that anyone will read their copy, and less chance that they'll leave a review. Still, it is a reasonable opportunity to make some fans. Everything worked according to plan, and it remains to be seen how it will shake out in the long run.

There are several things going on this week. The first one is a 99¢ sale for my newest novel, The Playground. I felt like Panama was an older title and the free days made more sense there. The Playground is my newest publication, and I'm not quite ready to give it away yet. I won't drone on about it here, because I made a separate post about it this morning.

To support the 99¢ sale, I did a Facebook push. I immediately kicked myself for one small mistake. I included the link to my blog post and not the Amazon universal purchase link. Then I received a comment from someone who bought the book and promised a review. Maybe it wasn't a mistake after all.

I also updated my pinned tweet on Twitter to reflect The Playground and the 99¢ sale. Every little bit helps, right?

I have more things planned as the month shakes out. Watch this space for updates.

I also appeared on Bad Moon on the Rise, over at Teri Polen's blog. In fact, I kicked the event off. I've been following this event every day and tweeting out the new posts. I've discovered some books I need to read too. I honestly hope some of you are interested in my Halloween themed promotions, but I'm not the only one doing this. There are some great things over at Teri's and you really should check it out.

I also started my annual tradition of posting some micro-fiction every week during October. I call these Macabre Macaroni, and they will include the Lisa Burton art as part of the promo. I don't always include graphics, but know posts with images draw more eyes. In my experience, Lisa draws more eyes than anything I've ever posted, so I included her here. I want this post to get some readers.

I was lucky enough to get included in an anthology called Macabre Sanctuary. This includes ten short stories for the price of free. I'm in the process of reading it now and all the stories have been great so far. You can't beat the price for a little bit of Halloween reading, and I'd appreciate you checking it out.

Another of the big ticket items kicks off this week as well. Regular readers will recall the announcement of Story Empire. This is a group of five authors who came together originally with the idea of some mutual promotion during October. It's evolved into so much more. There is a blog that features some nice writing tips, a Facebook page, and even a Twitter account.

The key piece of Story Empire this week is called The Paranormal Bar & Grille. We're doing a massive blog tour through Reading Addiction Tours. You can follow the tour at Reading Addiction, but you really need to visit the Bar & Grille site too. Each of the authors is holding a scavenger hunt and we're each giving away some pretty darned good prizes. You can find all of the answers by surfing around the Story Empire site. All of the top prizes are gift cards, and not an electronic copy of the book I gave away last week. (You know, unless you want one.)

There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway at Reading Addiction. The prize is a $30 Amazon gift card, so make sure you get in on that too. On both sites, you have to play to win.

I have other things in the works for later this month. Rather than tell you about them all right now, I want to concentrate on the timely things you should be taking advantage of right now.

So yeah, I've been kind of busy. The setup for everything happened while I had visits from my parents, two different groups of in-laws, and a convention I had to attend as part of my paycheck job. I expect a little smoother sailing as the month shakes out.

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Heading home, eventually

I woke up at 4:00 AM, Pacific Time today. I'm about tired of uncomfortable beds, restaurant food, conference room chairs, and all the rest. Checkout time is 11:00, my shuttle for the airport leaves at 1:00, and my plane doesn't fly out of Spokane until nearly 4:00.

It was kind of funny, yesterday. I hung around in the gathering area, and Idaho State University had something going on in one of the conference rooms. Their keynote speaker had a book signing after they broke up. This is one of those self-help/leadership type books. It looked like she moved about 20 – 25 copies. Maybe I should become a leadership guru.

I can hang around the lodge, and get some things accomplished though. After posting this, I'll probably schedule a couple of posts during the week. I'll also set up whatever kind of Amazon promo I'm doing for next week. (Watch this space.)

Panama did very well, but my experience is the first free day is the big one. It was exactly the same this time. I managed to get into the top twenty, and stayed there for a long time. The free days are over, so I'm back on the paid list. I used a Facebook boost to promote Panama, and it seems to have worked well. Yes, I paid to promote a free book. This time out, the goal wasn't actual sales, it was an attempt to land some fans. Fans come back and try other titles. Note: I have other titles.

I want to run an Amazon Giveaway again, and I want to run a 99¢ sale. Fortunately, I have enough paranormal titles to make this work during October for the lead-up to Halloween. Maybe we need a science fiction holiday somewhere. I don't think May 4th is quite there yet.

I've reached the odd point where Lisa doesn't have a guest for her radio show again this week. There are questionnaires out in various stages, and a couple of folks are waiting to get closer to release dates. I'll probably work on one of them this morning too. I don't like to hold off until the last minute. This only makes sense; since the intent is to promote the book it should post close to the release date. However; if you would like to get on Lisa Burton Radio, I have the opportunity to get you started.

It's time to get down to some serious work.

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Let’s saddle up and chase some demons

I may have mentioned that I'm doing a bunch of October promotions. Some are in groups, some are solo efforts, and some involve host blogs. This one is all on me, but it might benefit you. My book, Panama, is going to be free all this week. There are always some quirks with Amazon, and international date lines, but it should be free by the time this posts.

This is actually my most reliable selling book. It only spiked once and that was a long time ago. It regularly sells a copy here and there, and folks seem to like it.

The dawning of the twentieth century was a strange time. There were unexplored areas of the world. There were wild Indians, places an outlaw could escape, and radar couldn't find ships at sea.

Steam power ruled the day, and the industrial revolution was in full swing. Europe was mostly ruled by monarchs, before World War One changed all of that.

The French wanted to build a canal across the isthmus of Panama in what was then Colombia. This was no light undertaking, and workers died in the thousands from diseases, and more than a few industrial accidents.

I put a lot of research into this one, and it's where I learned that a dose of reality helps sell the fantastic. There are period appropriate celebrity cameos, and with the exception of one, they were where the book represents when they appear in the story.

Ethan and Coop are old friends. They both served in different cavalry troops, because Coop is black. The black cavalry were called Buffalo Soldiers by the Indians. They wound up on San Juan Hill together in the Spanish American War. Both of them have experience with paranormal goings on, and that's why President Roosevelt approached them. There is something unspeakable going on at the canal construction zone.

I spent a considerable amount of time dealing with the prejudices of the era too. Coop's life and viewpoint are different than Ethan's.

Most of the construction workers were chasing fortune and glory. They came from all over the world in pursuit of high wages. I went out of my way to make my construction zone an international community.

The boys run into plenty of magical issues when they get there, and I tried to make that international too. You'll find a bit of witchcraft, some shamanism, and even some hoodoo along the way. The problem is all caused by a demon, but there is a power behind him that must be dealt with. Right in the middle of their project, the Panamanians decided to try for independence. This brings the Americans, the Panamanians, and the Colombians into some tense situations.

To make matters worse, there is a Carlist rebel who is trying to gain the former Spanish colonies back for his want-to-be king. The Carlist movement involved someone who arguably could have been king of Spain. This is called a pretender to the throne, and they still exist to this day. I know some of you get into this stuff, and you might appreciate the Wikipedia brief.

I stumbled across this post the other day, and saved the link for you. They are extracting an entire steam train from underneath Lake Gatun. This lake was created as part of the workings of the canal. The post I had went down last night, so I Googled another one for you. Check out French trains.

So there you have it; a strange mixture of the old world and the new. A strange mixture of cultures, and magic. If you're up to the task, grab your straw hat, holster your six shooter, and saddle up. This week the books are on me, and I hope you enjoy Panama.

 

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Stopping in at the Writing Cabin

Lisa* had the sun tea all ready when I arrived, but seemed disappointed when I couldn’t stay long.

“It’s the new puppy. I can only get stuff done while he’s napping.”

“So what are you going to work on?”

“I really don’t promote on the blog very often. I think I’m going to post about my books.”

“Can I watch?”

“Sure.”

***

Most of you know I’m a writer by now, and I have a decent sized catalog of titles. It seems like they don’t have much of a lifespan, because something new always comes along. Other authors are cranking out projects and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Today’s post is all about mentioning some of my efforts. Maybe one of you will want to take one on vacation this year. Great poolside reading, and all that.

The Playground is my newest title. A power-mad businessman built a line of elaborate toys, just in time for the Christmas season. He loaded them with a special new social media for children. His plan is to brainwash the children into his own personal army. To this end, he turns to occult methods.

A cancer survivor, and former doctor finds herself working in end of life care. She is abducted into a strange secret society that can see into the otherworld. She doesn’t know what she’s doing, but she’s our best hope to stop the next generation of The Playground Network before it comes online.

She’s up against a brutal thug, racing to recover the software to speed up this nefarious plan. He’s bigger, has more street smarts, and a head start. Think of this one like my tribute to Tarantino, and Frank Miller.

Will O’ the Wisp is the story of fifteen year old Patty Hall. She’s being stalked by an ancient curse, but has no idea what it is. She’s perfectly prepared for the wrong problem, and if she doesn’t figure it out soon, she’ll join her relatives in the family cemetery.

This one is set in the 1970s, and features a strong coming of age story. Readers enjoyed the setting in a time before the Internet and cell phone technology.

The title is the North American Link. This is the one for the rest of the world.

The Cock of the South is my mashup of traditional fantasy characters with Greco-Roman fantasy characters. Follow Cobby as he gathers bands of oppressed non-humans and opposes the forces of Remus.

Part Exodus, part “hang together or hang separately,” this one pokes the idea of what might have happened to centaurs, Amazons, dwarves, elves, and others.

“Hail Cobby!” Check it out.

 

Arson is the story of Perry Wolfe, a elite firefighter who fights his battles in space. He loses everything due to a freak accident. He’s depressed, and tries to regain some of his former glory as an ATF Arson Investigator. This means traveling to another planet to attend training.

His first arsonist seems to have ties to his murdered sister, but he’s in the wrong bureau to do much about it.

Living up to the family business isn’t for everyone, and maybe he needs something (or someone) else in his life. This story heats up in more ways than one.

Panama is the story of two dipshits who are in over their heads. Ethan and Coop took an assignment to look into some unusual events plaguing the construction of the Panama Canal.

They run into monsters, ghosts, witchcraft, and more in their adventure. It’s all driven by a Carlist pretender to the thrones of Spain and France, who wants to recapture the New World.

Panama also has a few fun celebrity cameos, appropriate to the turn of the century.

***

“Seems kind of dry,” Lisa said.

“What do you mean? I’m just trying to give a sample of what the stories are about, in case someone wants to take one on vacation.”

“Can I try?”

I turned my computer over to Lisa. “See if you think you can do better.”

Not that way, sillies. My stories are great for reading in bed. The adventure starts in my origin story, Wild Concept.

Wild Concept is the story of a new kind of robot, built in a concept lab to be the showcase of what technology has to offer. The robot, Lisa, takes a job at Hudson PD to test out her abilities in a human world.

What she doesn’t know, is that her creators intend to disassemble her for research purposes at the end of her experiment. When she finds out about the plan, this concept goes a little bit wild.

 

Then there is a really cool short story involving me, called Bombshell Squad. It’s tucked inside the Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack is a collection of short stories across the speculative genres.

It covers some science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy stories. Priced permanently at 99¢, it is a nice way to explore the kinds of stories Craig writes.

These stories are great for coffee breaks, commuter busses, and times when you can’t dedicate a weekend to writing.

***

“Yeah, um, I… Remember when we talked about the word naiveté?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, this may be one of those times, where readers aren’t quite going to understand.”

“Sure they will. It’s a joke. See they can read my stories in bed. Get it?”

“I get it, but you have to remember that picture you were sent too. That’s the world we live in. And stop shaking. Something is going to fly out if you keep it up.”

“But I have mad sign shaker skills.”

“I know. How about if we just return to the books?”

“Fine. Read one of Craig’s books while you’re on Summer break. They cover a broad spectrum of speculative categories, and are highlighted with great characters like me.”

“Perfect.”

*Lisa Burton is my personal assistant, and the official spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She’s a robot, and super smart at anything dealing with computers. She may be a little bit naïve in other ways.

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Good things happened today.

I just made and devoured a home made Rueben sandwich. Fried things are probably bad, but sauerkraut is good, so I’m all balanced on the health meter. On the happy meter, I’m way up there.

I wrote this short story Saturday night. It amounted to about 2200, 2300 words. There is no speculative element in it, so it’s kind of an orphan. It involves a murder, so I sought some help. Sue Coletta said something polite like, “That sounds like fun.” I twisted that into, “Please let me read it.”

I knew I wasn’t entirely honest about it, but she is the best murder writer I know. Honestly read her book, Marred.

Sue read my short story, liked it, and even edited it for me. I was so excited, I lost my concentration for a moment or two. I have the iPad Pro that allows for a split screen, but I can’t open the same program using the split screen.

I never got rid of my old iPad, so I improvised. I opened Sue’s mark-up on the old iPad, and my draft on the new one. This works incredibly well. I even looked up a spelling error on the split screen, so I had three windows open at once. I just caught this one while I was working through it. Mother-load is not correct. I’ve worked at mines, and staked thousands of claims in my lifetime. A quick Google confirmed that it is mother-lode, like a lode deposit.

This also means that I owe Sue big time. I have something in mind, but I’ll have to wait to tell everyone about it.

The Yak Guy Project gained about 3000 words. I’m a little afraid that things aren’t happening fast enough for my usual readers, but this is a different kind of story. It involves a young man from the entitled generation who gets plopped into a world where all the technology is gone. Life is tough, and if you don’t do it yourself, you might starve to death. He has to get his hands dirty and everything, and I mean slaughtering chickens kind of dirty.

In this scene, he is with someone he considers less than himself. The fellow survived a war wound that left major brain damage. He can function to a degree, but needs some help with basic things too. It turns out Yak Guy Ted learns things from the invalid, and he’s about to have a revelation about himself.

There is a lot of philosophical stuff in Ted’s journey, and he is growing up in ways he should have years ago. I have no idea what genre to even plunk it in when I’m finished. I really like the idea of pride takes a fall in today’s words, and maybe there is hope for the Yak Guy after all.

Third big deal, fourth if you count my awesome sandwich. I posted some time ago about being nominated for a Planetary award. This was for my short story, Something in the Water, which came out in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.

It looks like the nominating period is over, and the voting starts tomorrow. I would really appreciate anyone who votes for my little story. Win or lose, the Commander is a great guy, and if we could drive him some traffic that would be great too. The voting link isn’t up right now, so I’ll post the home page where it will be tomorrow. This is the voting link.

I have to go back to the paycheck job tomorrow, but if I get time, I will update the link to the actual voting page. I’ll also try to share the link across social media as time allows.

The old dog is having a good day. The Walking Dead came back last night, and Daryl blew up some obnoxious biker thieves, Carol shot the Wolf dude, and that was all cool. I got some good work done, and I’m feeling pretty happy about things. I even gathered another five star review on one of my older books. (Panama)

I may even start another short story to carry me through the week.

 

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How’s it going?

I'm about to tell you how it's going. Organizing my September and October pushes was a lot of work. I had to write all the posts for the Will O' the Wisp blog tour. I also had to think ahead to get the artwork for Lisa Burton's promotion of my Experimental Notebook. I had to write all her posts too.

I put together a couple of Amazon advertising campaigns for these books to run concurrently with everything else. I submitted the books for reviews, and some of them are landing at the perfect time.

Today, my stats showed that someone found my blog from Flipboard. I checked it out, and converted my Zite Magazine to Flipboard. It turned out to be a hosting I did for The Bow of Destiny. Good for me, and good for P. H. Solomon

I also discovered this graphic on Rosie's Book Reviews. These guys do a lot of book reviews, and it's an honor to be on one of their top ten lists. Will O' the Wisp is the ranked book, but the post was about my Experimental Notebook. This is another double benefit.

Maybe the theme tonight should be double benefits. Let's head in that direction.

Regular readers of Entertaining Stories have been awesome on this blog tour. Most of you have made a couple of the stops, and some of you have made all of them. The Twitter support has been unbelievable.

There is a double benefit here too. Hosts volunteer to give up their blog space for a day. When you guys show up en mass, it gives them a boost. They might even gain a follower or two out of the deal.

My benefit is self explanatory, but visitors might find a cool new blog to follow, or even make a new friend along the way. Win – win.

People who host authors are worth making friends with. Many followers of this blog are writers, and you'll want hosts yourself one day.

I went with Macabre Macaroni again this year, because Notebook came out and was fresh. I had to write all of them too, but I love writing them. It's been well received, but last year one went almost viral. That's tough to live up to. As the blog tour winds up this week, I still have two more stories to finish out October. I'm excited to share them with you.

I've done promotional stuff in the past, and had no results. There are sales this time around. I think it might be the multi pronged push as opposed to one small thing. The big surprise is sales of The Cock of the South. I'm not currently pushing it, but maybe I should. There have also been a lot of pages read via Kindle Unlimited.

Another unexpected thing was the acceleration of tweets about Panama. It has a Halloween theme too, and if someone would rather chase a demon through the jungle I'm fine with that. Black magic, witchcraft, hoodoo, vampire bats, fun for the whole family.

As the next week winds down, we decided to go camping one more time. I may be out of touch next weekend, but I could use a little nature time.

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Panama by C. S. Boyack

I just stumbled across this in my reader. It’s a wonderful review of my story, Panama.

My train of thoughts on...

Panama

My rating:  4  of  5  stars

Plot
(by Amazon)

Ethan and Coop are sent to the construction zone along the Panama Canal. They have some experience with strange phenomenon, but nothing prepared them for this.

They are faced with civil war, Carlist pretenders to the thrones of France and Spain, an invading Spanish army, and another from Hell itself. They’ll be lucky to survive, let alone take care of anything while they’re down there.

This story is based upon the construction of the canal, Panamanian independence, international cooperation, and a few celebrity cameos. Even the magic takes on an international flavor.

Ghosts and Voodoo are one thing, but they have no idea what waits along the isthmus.

Genre(s):  Paranormal, Adventure

Series:  n.a.

Length:  310 pages

Release date:  2014-05-08

Teaser


“Men are dying by the thousands on the Isthmus. We fight malaria and yellow fever constantly…

View original post 560 more words

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Sometimes, ya gotta try new stuff

We authors tend to all try the same things to promote our works. We blog, we tweet, we sign up for paid promotions. It all works to a degree, and there is no magic spell that will help us stand out from the crowd.

I've been known to try some crazy things from time to time, and today is no exception. I see that adult coloring books are all the rage today. Sadly, I don't have any of those. Still, maybe an old school trick still has some life in it.

My regular readers know that Lisa Burton, the robot girl, is a recurring character on Entertaining Stories. I recently promoted her to 'Official Spokesmodel' for Entertaining Stories.

Lisa takes her job seriously, and when I'm writing she really gets into it. She uses alternate voices to read back my dialog, calls me out for too many coincidences, and dresses for the part.

I recently sent her over to Sean Harrington's studio to pose with some of the outfits from my novels. Sean designed a paper doll sequence and you can have it for free. Those of you who've been lamenting a Lisa of your own, can now have one.

She's pretty helpful too. Just stand her next to your computer and read out loud to her. She will miraculously help you spot difficult passages and weak dialog.

The doll is Lisa in a classic James Bond pose. It clearly shows off what she did to $20,000 worth of GMO human skin.

I chose to print my doll on card stock. She stands up better when you dress her up.

Some of you may be happy with simply the doll. She's just as helpful as when she's in costume.

While the doll represents Wild Concept, there is an outfit for every novel.

If you prefer chasing the dreaded demon, El Chivato, through the Panamanian jungle, there is an outfit for that.

Maybe you want to delve deeper into witchcraft in your story. The outfit from Will O' the Wisp is there for you. Here are a couple of examples:

The Cock of the South

With the hat, which Lisa knitted herself, she filled in for Argon the cyclops. Without the hat, she assisted with any number of characters, from the Southern Dwarves to a Remsian nobleman.

Arson

Maybe you prefer Lindsay Pennington, from Arson. I still say this little pyro is the most fun supporting character I ever wrote.

Of course you can go absolutely crazy and mix them up if you like.

The whole kit is absolutely free. I've made a new page at the top of my blog. Click on the printable PDF files and go to town. Make as many as you want. Spread them around town. Give them to friends, with my blessing. I'm sure Lisa would be proud to serve as your bookmark.

A big thank you goes out to original cover artist, Sean Harrington. This project wouldn't have been possible without him.

Another big thank you to everyone who reads Entertaining Stories. Your comments are what keeps me motivated. Who knows, maybe one day I'll offer up a small Muse to put on the other side of your computer.

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Galvanize

Let’s get galvanized

This is a cool word with several definitions. Today I want to take advantage of them.

We’ll take the second one first. I like this word to describe authors. We are all vulnerable when we share our first work with someone. Our parents like it, and we breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe a close friend says he/she likes it. Then it becomes time to share it with strangers.

Maybe you join a critique group, like I did. Maybe you hire someone to edit it, or take on a mentor. You’re about to get galvanized. We have to hear critical things and learn from them. It’s the only way we get better. This protective layer is best applied here. You don’t want your first experience to be in the form of a review.

My critique group is brutal. We all treat each other the same way, and we get along well. We’re all better writers than when we started. We’re all properly galvanized.

I encourage all writers to get this kind of feedback. I still get bruised from time to time, but my protective layer is building up. Yours will too. I’m sure I delivered a bruise or two in my day as well. (But it was all handled face to face, and I didn’t blog about them.)

Now let’s deal with the first definition.

Reviews are the author’s lifeblood. This is even more important for the indie authors out there. I vow to post reviews of the books I read from now on. It’s easy to move on to the next project, but Amazon prompts me at the end of every book. It’s pretty easy to add a couple of lines right then and there. Reviews don’t have to be long or extremely detailed.

My goal is to galvanize you into action. Nobody likes to get trashed in a review. It happens, but we can say critical things without being mean to one another. We can also enjoy a book without gushing to the point that it looks like a fake. There is a reason for the stars between one and five.

For myself, there are blog followers who said they enjoyed my books, but I’ve never seen a review. Do authors watch? You bet we do. I know of one Wild Concept, three Panama’s, and one Arson who’ve dropped me a comment or line. All of these folks said they enjoyed the stories. (The Cock of the South is still on a lot of reading lists, and it’s too new.)

For myself, I’m posting reviews from now on. I haven’t always done it, and I’ve never posted one for a traditionally published book. That all changes today. I’m a big believer in walking the walk. Won’t you join me?

Let’s recap:

  1. Writers should seek out critical feedback, and start building up that protective layer.
  2. Readers should consider leaving reviews. They are what allows writers to keep writing.

PS: Okay, there is a third definition. It involves electricity and muscle tissue. I left off twitching frog’s legs and Frankenstein on purpose, but you can talk about them in the comments.

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